Local Music

Neon Reverb report: The Big Friendly Corporation at Artifice

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The Big Friendly Corporation
Photo: Bill Hughes
Leslie Ventura

“They are all great friends, except for when they are not,” reads the bio on The Big Friendly Corporation’s Facebook page. The longtime local staples (around since 2004) haven’t performed live in eight months, but those who have come to the Artifice to see BFC tonight seem to be riding the same wave of support. It’s good to have these friends back.

Tonight also marks the first show since family member, friend and bandmate Tommy Marth passed away nearly five months ago, but in place of heavy hearts are good vibes and smiles all around.

Between Timothy Styles and Melissa Marth’s discussion about unicorn sh*t and subsequent pleas for the Friday-night audience members to move their asses, the well-seasoned five-piece knows how to lighten the mood and deliver a good time. That said, not everyone in the bar is obliging. There’s not nearly as much dancing as you’d expect from Big Friendly’s first show back, but that may have more to do with the bill rather than with BFC itself.

“These guys are, uh, older,” says an early-20-something standing next to me. I look around. There’s a definite age gap between those who came to see the preceding local act, new-wavy Close to Modern, and the more Beatles-esque Big Friendly. I tend to think of Vegas-scene schisms among genre-lines rather than age ones, but tonight at the Artifice, it’s obvious who’s here in support of BFC and who hasn’t even heard of them.

The funny thing is, BFC isn’t even that old. We just tend to regard musicians in dog years, not human ones (and in that case, BFC would be 56, not eight). But there’s a lot to learn from those who already know the ropes—like stage presence (younger bands take note), or just knowing how to rock the f*ck out.

And BFC does. Between a sped up version of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf,” or the diner-pop-turned-90’s alt-rock track “Tonight” off January release Nocturne, you never know what to expect with this band. One minute, we’ve got a pop-punk bass line from Styles and the next, something resoundingly Devo or Ween coming from Jeff Ford and Ryan Marth. And if that wasn’t enough, new drummer Brandon Johnson had to pick up all the material in just two weeks.

The minds behind BFC make for a live show that’s unpredictable and creative, but it’s the group’s collective exuberance that really makes BFC one of a kind.

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